Over the years we have had some slightly alternative schooling arrangements and have never been to a school just round the corner. We have always had to carefully select the right school that would cope with (oops, I mean ‘educate’) our two lovely boys.
Primary to begin with was a lovely little village school six miles away (better to be a big fish in a small pond than the other way round?). Therefore, for me, a drive of 24 miles each day, 120 miles a week. But worth it!
As my younger son hit year four, things started to fall apart a bit and we discovered flexischooling – he did full days Tuesday and Thursday and half days the rest of the week. This was a perfect balance. Weekly mileage was now up to 156 with these additional lunchtime pick ups but what a fab arrangement it was for us. If only the government recognised this a solution to a very good deal of the problems our children (and the education system) face instead of trying to prevent it happening, huh? (But that is a blog post for another day.)
Then things started getting more complicated as my eldest turned secondary age and my younger hit year five. NO EHCP meant very little secondary support for my year seven and a class of thirty-five meant my year five, even on part-time schooling, could not manage. After six fairly disastrous weeks at secondary and a similar amount of time in this large class for my younger son we then pushed the boat out and went ALTERNATIVE INDEPENDENT SPECIALIST! God, bless you Chiltern Tutorial School for saving us! I have NO IDEA how we managed to afford it (not that the fees were crazy high; we are just not crazy wealthy – or even middling wealthy for that matter!) but at the time it was a case of needs must and we somehow did!
Anyway, two years with both of them there and only the slightest hint of an alternative arrangement was needed; I think it was just a term or two of my older son doing four days in school and a home ed day mid-week. It meant a lot less mileage and a much simpler life – although, I have to say, this very small village hall school (when my two enrolled they were the ninth and tenth pupils in the school – yep, not the class, the school!) attracts parents committed to driving from miles and miles away, even out of county.
And then? Then it was back to secondary for my year nine but deferred to year eight with the younger doing an additional year at Chiltern and then joining him at a fab (again miles out of catchment) mainstream secondary that kind of ‘got’ what my children needed and were offering the pastoral care and understanding and flexibility they needed (younger one also deferred to year seven as year eight).
This year has seen a few recurring issues and now older son is back to flexischooling with a much reduced timetable in school and a four day week, home educated on Wednesdays.
And here comes the point of my post (I didn’t know that I had such a huge desire to list all of our educational provision over the years but I obviously did – hopefully putting all the decisions and stress to rest!)…
With both children at school six and a half miles away and no EHCP and named school and therefore no taxi (if it all still works like that – I don’t even know), even though the boys are now 15 and very nearly 13 – just like I did when they were in reception at primary, I still collect them from school each day.
And do you know what? I love it!!!
There is this brief but delicious moment where I am sat in the carpark waiting for the two familiar faces I adore to suddenly appear amongst the mass of black blazers and bags. (Secondary school Mums are NOT allowed to get out the car as we are ‘soooo embarrassing’.) And, for an even more fleeting moment, as they catch sight of me in the car, a restrained glimmer of a smile (usually more ready on a Friday) or sometimes a little nod of acknowledgement is directed my way before they get in and then, usually within minutes, all hell breaks loose. That little bit where they are out the school gate and have been ‘released into the wild’ (every animal pun intended!) but are not yet fully under my care and arguing/whinging/asking for food/clash of clans gems etc. Bliss!
Eldest, who currently has the front of the car on the way back from school (strict rotational systems apply as to who gets the passenger seat and who sits in back), then promptly bends in half so no-one can see he is with his Mum in the car (as that would be ‘soooo embarrassing’) and then youngest (who actually is only just starting to find me an embarassment) feels compelled to do the same as whilst Mum is ‘okay’ sitting in the back of the car like a baby when it appears that the front passenger seat is empty (because your brother’s head is in the foot well) is, yes, you’ve guessed it, ‘soooo embarrassing’.
And then we drive home and by the time we have got in the front door there has usually been some kind of fight and the keys have got lost (should probably blog on the joys of that too – watch this space!) and the car has been trashed with food. But that lovely ten seconds as they walk to car from gate is one of the very best parts of my day.
I have been lucky enough to collect my children from school for nearly eleven years now and I can see at least another four of school run pick ups in some shape or form. And, even though they are at times a daily chore, they are a chore I will miss when my school run days have ended.